House OKs new border initiative, but waters down plans for ‘Border Protection Unit’

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers backed a new rule that prohibits citizen volunteers from policing the border.

By Alexandra Hart and Wells DunbarMay 12, 2023 11:00 am, ,

The Texas House has approved a vast new border protection and funding measure, which would establish a new state border policing unit and allocate approximately $100 million to border communities.

“This is a priority bill for many Republicans who are very concerned with the border,” says Texas Tribune political reporter James Barragán, “with record crossings over the last year.”

The initial proposal for the “Border Protection Unit” included the use of civilians to detain or arrest people, which sparked concern over the possibility of human rights violations.

Under Democratic pressure, lawmakers reined in the original proposal, voting to use only commissioned peace officers for enforcement actions. “It’s been watered down a little bit, but that still continues to be in play,” Barragán says.

Funds will also be used for various purposes such as constructing new detention centers, courts, border security infrastructure, higher education and economic development projects. The bill now heads to the Texas Senate.

For more stories from the week in Texas politics, including the resignation and expulsion of Rep. Bryan Slaton for having sex with a teen intern, and the sentencing of Daniel Perry for the murder of Garrett Foster during 2020 racial justice protests, listen to the interview above.

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